Google Analytics alternative – Matomo [EN]

I have started this blog in September of 2015 by installing WordPress on my hosted domain (which i had for 7 years then and only used for email, sharing files and occasionally trying some stuff like web RSS client). I’ve used my providers (IV) Installatron service to install and configure everything. At first i wasn’t very interested in statistics, wasn’t expecting to get many visitors. So only about a year after i’ve decided to hook my site to Google Analytics, which i have used a bit at work. I have also installed Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin in WordPress and added a widget to my Dashboard. It is nice. Minimal, but has a lot of views and slices. Sometimes can be buggy and show you two days old information as one day old. But it is convenient to quickly glance at the stats when going into WP dashboard. Maybe once in a month i would also go to Google Analytics page and view more graphs and details.

Recently i have received permissions to access statistics for www.igniterealtime.org site and subsites (which hosts projects i participate in). And they use Matomo (formerly Piwik). They provide paid services, but you can also use it for free when installed locally on your server. And i liked the look of it and how it represents data. You can probably find a way to do similar thing in GA, but Matomo provides this out of the box. They also brag, that they provide better stats (because GA’s free version starts to guess instead of providing actual data, if you have a lot of traffic). Although don’t have much traffic and at a glance both seem to provide similar results. What i like the most is how every visit is represented in a separate card with details about location, time, what pages have been visited and in what order.

You can see patterns, how visitor browses around your site, what is the origin if visit (Google, LinkedIn, direct), browsers, OS, devices, is it a returning visitor and so on. I know i can get all this information from GA also, but in Matomo this is just a few clicks away.

So, a few weeks ago i have noticed Matomo in Installatron list of apps and decided to give it a go. I still use GA and haven’t disabled it, so i can compare the results. And i love that little dashboard widget too much 🙂 Installing it was a breeze. I have selected the latest 3.8.1 version. Although this was only the latest in Installatron itself. I had to update it later in Matomo dashboard to the currently newest 3.9.1 version. It showed me a notification at the top of a window and it was just a one click update (although it showed a failure message, but it actually have updated and this message should be fixed in 3.9.1). Then i have installed WordPress plugin – Matomo tracking, by Sergio Santos. Although Matomo recommends WP-Matomo plugin, which has a widget for WordPress dashboard, but i didn’t like their widget (very basic). Matomo tracking doesn’t have a widget, but is lightweight and you don’t have to copy security token from Matomo,  instead add ID number of sites you want to track (which Matomo assigns). This is also more secure. As Matomo won’t connect to your WordPress site via a token.

When Matomo is installed it only uses http for dashboard. To fix that you can go to its Marketplace in the Settings and install the Force SSL plugin.

I’m not 100% sure, but i think i also had to enable SSL Compatibility in Matomo tracking plugin for WP to start getting stats. Or maybe i just had to wait longer, a few days or so. Also, by default Matomo shows statistics of its own page on Dashboard. You can change this in Personal settings and point it to your actual site.

So far i’m satisfied with what Matomo provides. Although it sometimes mixes up locations and shows US instead of Lithuania. It shows a warning that i need to use another provider for better geolocation, but i’m not going to change my hosting just because of that. There are also a few recommendation to improve performance, but i don’t have direct access to server and my traffic is very low to bother about it 🙂 I guess i will keep both GA dashboard and Matomo for now, as they compliment each other.